One of the only places in the world that you will still be able to find a pager, is in a hospital. It is almost laughable that, in 2019, an industry as innovative as healthcare still relies on this relic of technologies past.
A report by DeepMind Health, published in 2017, named the NHS as the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines, prompting the Royal College of Surgeons to call for the NHS to ‘axe the fax.’
Subsequently, health secretary Matt Hancock announced at the end of 2018, that the outdated technology would be phased out by March 2020 and that no new fax machines were to be purchased by the NHS.
According to a 2017 study published by the Hospital Journal of Medicine, approximately 80% of hospitals are still using pagers. This number is reflective of healthcare’s ongoing struggle to digitalise. The reasons for the industry’s difficulties to bring about the much-discussed digitalisation are many but include security concerns and resistance from sceptical senior doctors.
After experiencing the inefficiencies of UK hospital’s modes of communication first-hand as a trainee doctor, Sandeep Bansal became passionate about finding a 21st Century solution to the NHS’ communication problem and created Medic Bleep.
Many doctors deem the one-way communication method of pagers and telephone to be inefficient as the recipient is unaware who is bleeping, why, or the level of urgency. Work is interrupted, patient-facing time is wasted, prioritisation is difficult, and the evidence trail is limited.
Dr. Sandeep Bansal founded the healthcare technology company Medic Creations, in 2014.
The team is comprised of a group of innovative healthcare professionals (HCPs), including the award-winning medical futurist and “virtual surgeon” Shafi Ahmed.
Medic Bleep, the company’s core product, is a simple, secure solution to the communication challenges that HCPs in the NHS face while going about their everyday work.
It is a communication app for smartphones, with tailored healthcare functionality that meets the General Data Protection Regulation and 100 percent of the NHS’ information governance standards. Features include individual and group text, audio messaging, fingerprint login, patient information tab, broadcast messaging and the ability to view role availability and on-call status of colleagues.
A 2017 Medic Bleep pilot programme at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust identified reasonably immediate productivity gains, time-saving, and service improvements.
Nurses saved 10 minutes per TTO (patient discharge) and 11 minutes per Patient Review – a saving of 21 minutes per shift, the equivalent of 18 full-time nurses if implemented across the hospital.
Junior Doctors: 10 minutes per Patient Review – a saving of 48 minutes per shift, the equivalent of 18 full-time junior doctors if implemented across the hospital.
Last week West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust became the first hospital in the UK to replace the pager with Medic Bleep.
“Pagers have been around for 70 years and have been the preferred and possibly only method of communication in a hospital but are not fit for purpose and need disrupting and modernising,” said Shafi Ahmed in a LinkedIn post.
“The live roll out of this [Medic Bleep] throughout the hospital today was a major success.”
Vishen Ramkisson, GP and Senior Clinical Lead at NHS Digital said, “the perseverance shown by Dr. Sandeep Bansal in bringing MedicBleep to reality has been admirable – it should not be this difficult to adopt time and cost saving technology on the ground.”
Healthcare’s future is inescapably digital but is slower on the uptake than many industries. Hopefully, success stories like the recent implementation of Medic Bleep will bring about the acceleration of the use of time-saving, patient-focused technologies.
Dr Bansal told Global Shakers that Medic Bleep is currently in talks with 40 trusts in the UK as well as two big healthcare systems in UAE/India and Australia.